Bounce Rate vs Percent Add to Cart vs Cart Completion

By Nik


The conversion rate of your online store is essentially the number of visitors that enter your website and make a purchase. At the aggregate, there are several levels that the visitor must go through in order to actually become the buyer. They include going beyond the entrance click, adding a product to the shopping cart, then finally – completing the cart process and making a purchase. 3 metrics help define the success rate that you have each step of the way. They can be calculated at the aggregate – or even at a deeper segment level. They are: bounce rate, add to cart % and cart completion %.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the inverse of success in pulling visitors through the funnel. Bounce rate is the % of visits that concluded where they began – at the entrance page. The thought behind this is that the page they entered is probably not the same page that a goal (like a purchase) could be accomplished so despite what transpired during that visit, it did not result in a motivated shopping experience. If 7 of 10 visitors to your site leave after they see the first page, your bounce rate would be 70%. That’s not great. The rest of the funnel will only be working with 30% of the visitors. In Conversion Booster testing, we have found a multitude of ways to naturally drive down bounce rates for stores, in a way that actually impacts revenue. It’s a challenge, but can be well worth the effort.

Percent Add to Cart

The next step is getting a visitor to consider adding a product to the shopping cart. Many conversion white papers and success stories are based on this number: add to cart % – the percent of all visitors (bounce and non-bounce) that add a product to the shopping cart. Last week I heard a member of the Exclusive Concepts conversion team joke, “if I wanted more add to carts, I would simply remove all other elements or trick them into clicking…” He went on to assert, “but that doesn’t result in more revenue.” For those who are curious the answer is: Yes, add-to-cart improvements can make a significant impact to conversion rates, contingent on whether the higher performance was a result of overcoming an issue on the website, like difficulty locating a product or lower heirarchical placement of add-to-cart on shopping pages like a product page.

Cart Completion

Still, as our team member suggested, you’ll sometimes find that when add to cart % goes up because of some change you are either testing or have implemented, the cart completion % goes down. The net change in revenue and conversion rate: 0. The issue there is that all the extra visitors who added to cart were not completely motivated to finalize the purchase, just add to cart. An example of this would be if you created an “add to cart in order to see final price” message.

In some cases, you’ll find that conversion rate issues of particular categories on your site may not hinge on your ability to get more visitors to add to cart at all, but rather to complete the cart process. The question then becomes: if they’re adding to cart, why are they not buying? Maybe its the basics of value messaging or competitive pricing. Maybe you’re not being convincing enough with motivational messaging. Tools like “The Cart Closer” are a sure bet to improve this metric where you need help. Identifying this issue can help prevent many stores from investing in better usability (to help people find products) in order to prioritize motivational messaging improvements.

Defining ways to smooth out and build up each step of the shopping funnel is part of what we do every day for our Conversion Booster clients. If you’re looking to get your business to the next level in 2011 and capitalize on all that great quality traffic you get to your site, give us a call and let’s explore how we can help.